Heroes of 1962 war in Arunachal: 2nd Lt Naveen Kohli

Flights Of Fantasy

[ M Panging Pao ]

Many Arunachalee old-timers recall the 1962 Indo-Chinese conflict with fear and anger. The Chinese forces entered deep into Arunachal Pradesh along many axes, like Taksing-Limeking, Mechuka/Manigong-Tato, Gelling-Tuting, Kibithoo-Walong axes and the main Tawang-Bomdila-Rupa axis. Many readers are not aware of the fierce battles fought by our brave soldiers. One such story is the story of second lieutenant Naveen Chander Kohli.

During the 1962 Sino-Indian war, the Chinese forces started their attack early morning on 20 October, 1962. Young officer 2nd Lt Naveen Chander Kohli was posted to a battalion of the Punjab Regiment which was deployed in Nyamka Chu valley in the then NEFA. Considering the emerging tactical scenario, higher formations ordered the battalion to withdraw to rear areas. When the battalion was ordered to withdraw, 2nd Lt Naveen Chander Kohli was tasked to stay behind as officer in command of the rear parties to cover the withdrawal. On noticing the withdrawal of the main forces, the Chinese forces intensified their shelling and assaulted the positions held by the rear parties, now under 2nd Lt Kohli. But under his able leadership, the rear parties foiled the enemy attack, inflicting heavy casualties on them. During this attack, 2nd Lt Kohli went from bunker to bunker, encouraging his men, inspiring confidence and giving first aid to the wounded soldiers.

At one bunker, where a gunner had been wounded seriously, he himself manned the gun and continued firing at the enemy forces. It was only after the battalion had reasonable time to pull out and the enemy pressure against this position had increased tremendously by a second wave of assaulting troops that he withdrew. He was one of the last to leave the post and exercised his command so skillfully that he managed to take out his entire force, including the wounded, and join the main battalion.

Second lieutenant Kohli showed commendable courage and exemplary devotion to duty in this operation. For his exceptional courage, tenacity and gallantry during the war second lieutenant Naveen Chander Kohli was awarded the nation’s third highest gallantry award – the Vir Chakra. Salute to second lieutenant Naveen Chander Kohli!

(The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)